We’ve seen a lot of horror movies where the evil is a psycho with a machete or a diabolical villain with too much time on his hands. In 2010’s Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, the evil is miscommunication, stereotypes, social awkwardness and highly accident prone college kids. All human aspects of this movie are forgivable and even relatable, which is what makes this flick even scarier than most modern horror.
Appearances can be deceiving and people all too often judge others before they get to know them. Here, some college kids have a hillbilly/redneck phobia. When a good ol’ boy named Dale (Tyler Labine) approaches an attractive college girl named Allison (Katrina Bowden), she has no way of knowing that his rugged appearance, shyness and awkward demeanor hide a true southern gentleman. Instead, Allison and her college cohorts assume he’s just a freak and actually fear him.
Later, by sheer coincidence, the college kids get together to swim not far from where Dale and his buddy Tucker (Alan Tudyk) are fishing. Dale happens to startle Allison and she falls from her diving spot, knocking herself unconscious. When Tucker and Dale pull her out of the water, the rest of the college kids think they are trying to kidnap her, which really gets the ball rolling for hilarity and some freak accidental deaths.
As Allison gets to know the hillbillies – and increasingly appreciate Dale’s kindness – the college kids escalate things in their rescue attempts near Tucker and Dale’s vacation home. This is especially true after an incident involving a chainsaw wielding Tucker being chased by bees, which they assume is him trying to attack them. The college kids always assume the worst, which is what we as an audience always want to happen in horror movies when the damsel in distress walks into the empty house, calling out to unknown murderous bastards. This time, they could have just assumed the best and all would have been clear. That is the trick this movie plays, and it does it well.
I won’t go into great detail about the deaths, but they are about as hilarious as movie deaths can be. Oddly enough, that is a big part of this movie’s charm. It is very much in the slapstick comedy vein, albeit much more fatal. When you think of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, you might fairly think of Three Stooges-style action – in the most positive sense of such a comparison.
Even if you’re not a big fan of slapstick or blood and gore, I would still recommend giving Tucker & Dale a chance. This story is a potent mix of comedy, horror and even romance, and adequately comments on first impressions, prejudices and stereotypes. It’s a little far fetched, to be sure, but such is the nature of comedy and horror. It’s nothing a bit of suspension of disbelief won’t fix.
Also, Tucker & Dale’s tragi-comedic aspects remind me of a great Mel Brooks quote: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”